Earbuddy’s Best Albums of 2016: 35 – 26

earbuddy best albums of 2016-2

Today continues Earbuddy’s countdown of our choices for the 100 best albums of 2016. Check out what we ranked for 100 – 36 HERE. No more stalling; let’s reveal 35 – 26.

35. Big Thief – Masterpiece

Big Thief, a band from Brooklyn, arrives with all of the positive implications of that phrase and none of the negative. Easy comparisons might be made with label-mates Hop Along. The similarities aren’t just surface-level, either; both bands are seemingly timeless, guitar-driven, and led by a strong voice who also has a knack for genuine, earnest lyrics. Masterpiece, is just as strong as anything Hop Along have committed to tape, and perhaps even better.

Purchase: Amazon


34. Anna Meredith – Varmints

If you enjoy bold, exciting and colorful compositions with heart, this is certainly the record for you. From the mathematical pop-rock (“Taken”, “The Vapours”) and euphoric art pop cuts (“Something Helpful”, “Last Rose”) to explosive and dynamic instrumental pieces (“R-Type”, “Nautlius”), there is plenty to love here. This is avant-garde music with none of the pretense but all of the skill, ambition and passion, just as it should be.

Purchase: Amazon

preoccupations lp

33. Preoccupations – Preoccupations

More than anything else, Preoccupations’ new album is held together by it’s amazingly textured bass lines, and Matt Flegel’s haunting Werner Herzog vocals. These two features have enough personality to be consistently interesting on every song, no matter how long it is. The bass stands out the most on the fantastic single “Degraded.” It sounds like it’s being played by a dusty, cold war era, vacuum tube computer before the song explodes into a zombie dance groove.

Purchase: Amazon


32. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Just last year Cave suffered a tremendous loss when his 15-year-old son Arthur fell tragically to his death off a cliff in Brighton. The sessions for Skeleton Tree were first started in 2014, but Cave’s tragedy is prevalent throughout Skeleton Tree. Some of it is mere coincidence and some probably not. It’s not the usual chamber rock album we get from Cave and The Bad Seeds. His animated persona is more subdued. Here, he’s mournful, wounded, human. Skeleton Tree is a devastating triumph and deserves to be heard.

Purchase: Amazon

Michael Kiwanuka love and hate

31. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

Kiwanuka has an undeniable ear for composition and a knack for execution. Love & Hate is the rare sort of soul album, the kind in which the artist can get away with starting things off with a nine-minute track without stumbling over themselves and the inevitable comparisons to Otis Redding and the Temptations feel earned rather than requisite. Above all else, this is a confident album from a confident artist, one that fans of both folk and soul will find something to cherish here.

Purchase: Amazon

savages adore life

30. Savages – Adore Life

Although Adore Life is far from a sonic leap for Savages, it is still a remarkable follow up to a magnetic and confident debut. The band’s four key elements are as respectively strong as ever. Jehnny Beth’s commanding vocals, Ayşe Hassan’s crunchy bass, the sharpness of Gemma Thompson’s guitar riffs and the military precision in Fay Milton’s drumming make every track on Adore Life a sonic delight.

Purchase: Amazon


29. Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being

How To Be A Human Being, is somewhat of a concept album about the various people that Glass Animals’ frontman Dave Bayley met and even recorded on his phone while touring Zaba. Turns out the people Bayley was observing actually made for interesting subject matter. The songs themselves play out similarly to The Avalanches’ recent album by running the gamut of comical, dancey, sexy, and anthemic (love album closer “Agnes”). How To Be A Human Being is a fun experience, and maybe more well-rounded than Zaba. Bayley appreciated his subjects enough to give them an excellent spotlight to stand under.

Purchase: Amazon


28. Clipping – Splendor & Misery

Splendor & Misery is far from graceful. The specifics of the plot are poorly conveyed outside of a few tracks, and while the tracklist has fifteen chapters, the number of fully constructed songs here is closer to half that figure, with the remainder consisting of interludes, reprises, intros, and outros. What’s accomplished here, though, is the most chilling set of abstract hip-hop since the first cLOUDDEAD album.

Purchase: Amazon


27. Warpaint – Heads Up

On Heads Up, Warpaint’s music is given room to breathe, and it feels like more personality is emerging from the music. How can you tell this is a different Warpaint unlike the one you know? Listen no further than Heads Up‘s lead single, “New Song”, a poppy, dance number that even features the line, “Bang bang baby.” The song, “So Good”, is one where you can literally hear the Warpaint of old — the shadowy vocals, moody lyrics — contrast with the Warpaint of now — club ready percussion, an exhilarating, synth-heavy wordless chorus. It could be the album’s best song because it really is so good.

Purchase: Amazon

diiv is the is are

26. DIIV – Is The Is Are

With Is the Is Are, DIIV frontman Cole Smith overcomes his personal and musical obstacles to craft a dark, compelling album, coming into his own as a songwriter. Oshin was a series of frustratingly forgettable guitar songs that seemed to ride a wave of Pitchfork-aided hype to near instant fame (a nickel for every time that’s happened). The tracks were populated less with songs and more with bubbling, echo-laden sighs. The most immediately noticeable feature on Is the Is Are is that Smith’s voice is way up in the mix, there is a bit less reverb, and there are some solid, tangible melodies here.

Purchase: Amazon

And just a look back at the list so far:

100. Two Inch Astronaut – Personal Life
99. Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood
98. Lionlimb – Shoo
97. Told Slant – Going By
96. TEEN – Love Yes
95. Springtime Carnivore – Midnight Room
94. Living Hour – Living Hour
93. Faun Fables – Born of the Sun
92. Operators – Blue Wave
91. Mind Spiders – Prosthesis
90. Yoni & Geti – Testarossa
89. Yak – Alas Salvation
88. Night Moves – Pennied Days
87. Soft Hair – Soft Hair
86. Wilco – Schmilco
85. Momoiro Clover Z – Amaranthus
84. Dalek – Asphalt for Eden
83. Moonface and Siinai – My Best Human Face
82. Fear of Men – Fall Forever
81. Denzel Curry – Imperial
80. Animal Collective – Painting With
79. How To Dress Well – Care
78. Chivalrous Amoekons – Fanatic Voyage
77. Okkervil River – Away
76. Puro Instinct – Autodrama
75. Guerilla Toss – Eraser Stargazer
74. Wye Oak – Tween
73. EZTV – High In Place
72. Keaton Henson – Kindly Now
71. Xiu Xiu – Plays The Music of Twin Peaks
70. Junior Boys – Big Black Coat
69. Cian Nugent – Night Fiction
68. Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger
67. Dinosaur Jr. – Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
66. Dave Harrington Group – Become Alive
65. Jessy Lanza – Oh No
64. Julianna Barwick – Will
63. Drive-By Truckers – American Band
62. Moderat – III
61. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust
60. Daughter – Not To Disappear
59. Tacocat – Lost Time
58. NOTHING – Tired of Tomorrow
57. Mutual Benefit – Skip a Sinking Stone
56. HINDS – Leave Me Alone
55. Quilt – Plaza
54. St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Sea of Noise
53. The Notwist – Superheroes, Ghostvillains & Stuff
52. Babymetal – Metal Resistance
51. Porches – Pool
35. Big Thief – Masterpiece
34. Anna Meredith – Varmints
33. Preoccupations – Preoccupations
32. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
31. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
30. Savages – Adore Life
29. Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being
28. Clipping – Splendor & Misery
27. Warpaint – Heads Up
26. DIIV – Is The Is Are

And that’s it for today! Be sure to join us tomorrow as we take a look at our best releases of 2016: 25 – 11.

About NK

I founded Earbuddy to turn you onto excellent music and give fair, unbiased, and honest music reviews. Hit me up on Twitter @earbuddy if you want to chat about music, disagree with what I’ve written here, or talk about anything else.